Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system

Audio|Video|Misc
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POWER MEASUREMENTS

This is SPCR; it is a long established tradition to measure and report power consumption whenever possible. They are difficult to do while the speaker/amps are actually working to produce sound, but much easier in static mode.

Audioengine A2
AC Power & SPL Measurements
State
Rockus 3D | 2.1
Audioengine A2
AC Power
SPL (dB)
AC Power
SPL (dB)
Off, plugged into AC.
4W
0
1W
0
On, volume control at MUTE
7W
0
4W
0
Playing music at desktop, modest volume
7~12W
60~70 dB@1m
4~6W
60~70 dB@1m
TV programming sound, moderately loud
12~24W
60~85 dB@2m
4~20W
60~85 dB@2m
Playing music in large room, just below overload
20~44W
60~85 dB@3m
15~30W
60~85 dB@3m

The differences are not large, but the smaller AudioEngine A2 has an edge. It should; the Rockus has more powerful amplfiers, and there are three of them, compared to the A2's two.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This review of the Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system has been an interesting project on several levels. It is the first time that the acoustic analysis capability of the SPCR anechoic chamber has been used for speaker testing. Happily, the test results have been helpful, shedding light on subjective impressions and putting the review on a more empirical footing. It was also a good excuse to revisit the AudioEngine A2 speakers, which were reviewed just before the chamber came into service.

At least one test result provided a better understanding of why desktop speakers generally sound as poorly as they do, and how they can be made to perform better. The desktop is much like a large sounding board. Placing any speakers capable of significant bass on such a sounding board couples them mechanically, which ensures all kinds of deleterious sonic effects. The simple expedient of keeping low frequencies out of the desktop satellites makes the Rockus substantially more listenable at higher volumes than the AudioEngine A2s, despite the latter's smoother overall performance. It may well be that the new silicone rubber stands made for the A2s can limit the bass coupling to the desktop significantly; this is something I will try to find out soon.

A few more compressed MP3s were used to check Antec's position that such source files need a bit of boost in the treble to sound better, but this test was not conclusive, as some highly compressed MP3 music files just didn't sound great no matter what was done to doctor them up. Our position is simple: Why bother with such compromised files in this day of proliferating cheap digital storage? I am of the opinion that Antec could make a substantial improvement by taming the too-hot top end in the satellites. Hopefully, Soundscience will take a product development approach which emphasizes refining and improving existing products rather than starting scratch every year. Especially in audio electro-mechanical design, there is much to be gained from such an approach.

It is clear that Antec's first entry into PC audio is a strong contender, though not without some weaknesses. (It is hard to imagine how any $250 powered speaker system could actually have no flaws.) The overall performance of the Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 with music at the desktop is clear and detailed, with good bass weight and extension, lively dynamics, and the ability to play quite loudly without overload. The brightness that shows up with some program material is easy enough to tame with equalizer controls on many software music players. In the role of a TV or HTPC speaker system, it also fared well, providing improved clarity of dialog and dramatic sound effects over typical TV speaker systems, but without the complexity and bother of the too many speakers and wires everywhere (needed for 4- or more channel home theater sound). Whether the Rockus is a better performer than other PC speakers in the same price range is not possible for us answer without more extensive investigation, but the review findings suggest that it merits your serious consideration. For now, the review Rockus sample will remain on my desktop.

Our thanks to Antec / Soundscience for the Rockus product sample.

POSTSCRIPT - For audio/modding diehards, the article continues on the next page with a detailed look Inside the Rockus satellite.

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Articles of Related Interest
AudioEngine A2: Little Big Speakers
Squeezebox 3 Digital Music Box
Scythe's Kama Bay Amp
Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe: Asus HTPC sound card does Everything

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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